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IRL Creative Nonfiction Retreat with Pandemic University Faculty

($) CAD
  • ($) USD
WOOCS v.2.3.1


Date: May 10-13, 2024
Location: Boutique private residence with accommodations and event space (Edmonton, Alta.)

Join a cohort of inspired writers and all-star instructors for Pandemic University’s inaugural IRL Creative Nonfiction Writing Retreat in Edmonton, Alberta. Hosted from May 10 to 13, 2024, this boutique retreat will hone your creative nonfiction writing through seminars, workshops, and one-on-one time with our award-winning writers Omar Mouallem, Jana G. Pruden, and Christina Frangou.Through practical learning, group discussion and one-on-one direction and feedback, our immersive three-day retreat will help you elevate your writing practice with new skills, and a deeper understanding of memoir, literary journalism and essays craft. You’ll also enjoy catered meals and social events, and build long-lasting relationships with your peers in an inclusive, supportive and collaborative environment. Altogether PanU’s all-inclusive retreat will offer an unforgettable experience that goes above traditional writing retreats, and leaves you inspired and energized, and with a different understanding of your writing practice.

The retreat takes place in a luxury home in west-central Edmonton with optional but limited accommodations. The address will be made available after registration and we’re happy to assist with finding external accommodations nearby, though travellers are responsible for their own transportation to Edmonton and the retreat house.

Payment plans are available on request. Email pandemicuniversity@gmail.com to inquire.


Recommended Audience
  • Writers in the Edmonton area or able to travel to Edmonton on May 10–13, 2024
  • Established and emerging creative nonfiction writers
  • Writers looking to hone their skills while building community
Not sure it’s for you? Feel free to reach out and ask the us directly: info@pandemicuniversity.com.
RETREAT SCHEDULE (detailed schedule and mentor booking form will be provided upon registration) 
Date: May 10-13, 2024
Location: Boutique private residence with accommodations and event space in Edmonton

Friday evening (starts 5 PM)
Arrival, settling in, catered reception and panel discussion with faculty

Saturday (starts 8 AM)
In between catered breakfast and lunch, dive into the craft through scheduled lectures and seminars by PanU faculty; group breakout sessions with exercises and workshops; and individual mentorship meetings. We’ll then move to dinner reservations (meals included with registration but drinks are not).

Sunday (starts 8:30 AM)
See the city during a morning jog or walk with PanU faculty before returning to the retreat house for a catered brunch. After another round of lectures, peer workshops and one-on-one time with your mentors, we’ll have a catered family dinner, book exchange and wrap party.

Coffee, light breakfast and goodbyes.


Jana G. Pruden is an award-winning feature writer at The Globe and Mail and a sessional journalism instructor at MacEwan University. Her story “Fear on the Farm” was named to Slate’s best crime writing 2013 and was later released in book form by Hingston & Olsen Publishing. Jana is a frequent presenter on issues related to journalism, nonfiction writing, and true crime reporting. Her Lougheed College Lecture, “The Misery Beat: The Ethics of Reporting on Crime and Human Suffering,” can be found here.

Omar Mouallem is an author, journalist, filmmaker, and “Fake Dean” of Pandemic University School of Writing. He’s contributed stories to The Guardian, WIRED, and NewYorker.com and received three National Magazine Awards and other honours. Several of his articles have been adapted into books and movies, including How Muslims Shaped the Americas, which was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2021. He also wrote and directed The Lebanese Burger Mafia, which won the Audience Choice Award at the 2023 Northwest International Documentary Festival.

Christina Frangou is a Calgary freelance magazine writer who specializes in writing about health, medicine and social issues. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, Maclean’s, FASHION and Chatelaine. She writes about topics like refugees, grief, loneliness and public health. In 2016, she won a National Newspaper Award for long-feature writing for a story about her experience as a young widow in the aftermath of her husband’s death. She’s also a two-time finalist for a National Magazine Award and the winner of multiple Alberta Magazine Awards.


After checkout, you’ll receive a receipt with a downloadable PDF syllabus that includes a complete schedule of the writing retreat and additional information on mentorship and peer grouping sessions. The PDF will also provide you with detailed directions to the venue. You’ll also receive a form to fill out regarding any allergies and accommodations preferences (for writers registered with shared accommodations only). You will also receive an emailed reminder a few days before the event.


Due to limited space and complex logistics, our retreat’s refund policy is more restrictive than our online programming. Cancellation requests must be made by May 3, 2024, to be eligible for a refund, however, refunds are not guaranteed. Refunds will only be offered if and after the vacated spot is filled by another participant. No refunds whatsoever will be offered after May 3, 2024.Violations of the IRL Code of Conduct (below) may also result in your removal from the retreat without compensation. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


Although PanU is technically a fake university, we’re committed to upholding values of artistic integrity, quality education, and creating a safe and respectful environment for all writers during our online and IRL events. As safety concerns of our community are paramount, a PanU representative will be present around the clock to ensure the well-being of all retreat attendees. Abusive behavior towards fellow participants or instructors, bigoted remarks, or plagiarism will not be tolerated and may result in immediate expulsion from the retreat without refund. The final decision regarding participation in the retreat rests solely with the PanU staff. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at info@pandemicuniversity.com. Thank you for joining us in fostering a supportive and enriching environment for our community.

Enrollment Level

Single accommodations: $1,250 CAD (3 spots available), Shared accommodations: $1,000 CAD (3 spots available), No accommodations: $750 CAD (9 spots available)